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Retail Footfall Data: Fourth Consecutive Month Of Improvement, But High Street Recovery Under Threat

  • September marks the fourth consecutive month since non-essential stores started re-opening that footfall levels have closed the gap on the same period last year.
  • September shopper numbers were down -39.6% compared to last year. In August it stood at -41.7% and in July -53.0%.
  • Average weekly footfall in non-food stores was -1.1% lower in September against August, far stronger than the five year average of -5.5%.
  • The expanding number of local lockdowns and stricter socialising rules, however, hit store footfall hard as the month wore on.

The latest footfall figures for non-food stores to be released by Ipsos Retail Performance show that September marked the fourth consecutive month of improving shopper numbers since non-essential stores started re-opening.

September footfall levels were down by -39.6% year on year, a slight improvement on a -41.7% drop in August and -53.0% in July. Average weekly footfall in non-food stores was just -1.1% lower in September against August, far stronger than the five year average of -5.5%.

Despite signs of recovery in non-food retail, the data towards the end of the month raises fears that local lockdowns and national Coronavirus restrictions have damaged the momentum of the return of shoppers to the high street. By the last week of the month, the year-on-year gap had fallen back to -44.1% as increased restrictions hit store footfall.

Ipsos Retail Performance collects data from over 600 towns and cities across the UK, and for over 25 years its Retail Traffic Index has been the industry’s leading tracker of national, regional and sector retail footfall trends. It is also co-founder of the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank, offering thought leadership on the state of retail health and the future of retailing.

Dr. Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said:

“Footfall continued to recover last month in non-food stores, providing further evidence that an important sector in the consumer economy is gradually gaining some momentum. The national results for the month were even better in the initial weeks, but the expanding number of local lockdowns and stricter socialising rules covering a third of the UK hit store footfall hard as the month wore on. The national measures introduced in England on 22nd September to further contain the virus also appear to have added to the high street woes.

“Looking forward, if the restrictions continue to tighten and proliferate geographically, we cannot expect to see footfall continue to recover. More likely, shoppers will turn more readily again to the digital channel. At least compared to other parts of the consumer economy, such as the arts, travel and recreation, the retail sector has managed to start the long haul back to health, albeit that there is still a long way to go.

“The lustre of the Golden Quarter 2020 remains in serious doubt. Some retailers are already shipping seasonal stock to store in preparation for a long burn campaign beginning later this month. It simply won’t be possible for stores to accommodate the usual numbers of festive shoppers in the run-in to Christmas, so early store campaign launches are inevitable to get traction in till volumes.”

For more information about Ipsos Retail Performance, fill out the form below or call: 01908 682 700.

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